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UK court orders extradition of Agrokor founder over alleged fraud

Staff Writer |
A British judge has ordered that Ivica Todoric, founder of food production and retail conglomerate Agrokor, be extradited to Croatia to face allegations of fraud totaling tens of millions of euros.

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Agrokor, which accounts for 15 percent of Croatian GDP and is the largest employer in the Balkans, was placed under emergency state administration a year ago after it came close to collapsing under a mountain of debt.

Todoric, who founded the company in 1976, has denied accusations of fraud and said the Croatian investigation into his financial affairs was politically motivated.

But judge Emma Arbuthnot, the chief magistrate of England and Wales, said in a judgment delivered at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday that she had seen no evidence to support that argument, which she dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”.

“I accept that the Agrokor affair has a political dimension as it represents 15 percent of the GDP of Croatia, but the prosecution is based on the evidence uncovered and is not being pursued because of political pressure,” she said.

The fallout from the Agrokor crisis extends beyond Croatia’s borders. The single biggest creditor is Russia’s Sberbank, which has a claim of more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) and has lodged a criminal complaint of forgery against Todoric and the company.

Arbuthnot said that a Zagreb prosecutor had provided 15 pages of closely typed descriptions of alleged offences, including that Todoric had instructed Agrokor to settle his and his family’s personal expenses to the tune of millions of euros.

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